Quick update on Asher

25 Jun

Hi, all! This is an informal and quick update to let everyone know about Asher and the random things he’s had come up lately. I really don’t feel like writing right now, but I want to let you all know that we’re in the process of getting him sorted out.

First of all, he’s started stuttering really badly. We don’t know what exactly is “bad” for his age, since stuttering in general is fairly common among children ages 2-5ish. We first noticed that he started doing it a few months ago, maybe in February, but since he’s so young we really didn’t think much of it and decided to completely ignore it. He started to notice he was doing it and shortly after that he kind of slowed down and wasn’t doing it as much. But then about a month ago it came back full force! It was so bad that he could hardly say a word for a solid week and then just chose not to talk for about 3 days. He was miserable. Needless to say, it was both heartbreaking and worrisome. So we started looking in to what we need to do to help him through this. We got some pointers from some widely-known stuttering support organizations and set up an appointment with his pediatrician. His pediatrician said that, because of Asher’s age, they don’t typically suggest any type of therapy or anything unless the child really seems to be suffering. But after a short conversation with Asher he said it would be best at least to get him evaluated. Though Ash still struggles to get words out a majority of the time, it has definitely been better since that one terrible week. He still does it more often than not and, though he tries to ignore it sometimes he just has to scream or cry or something and say “I DON’T HAVE ANY WORDS!” He wasn’t composing sonnets or anything, but he was articulating himself extremely well for his age not too long ago. He was speaking in full sentences, using quite a broad vocabulary, and enunciating fairly well. We’re wondering if his brain is perhaps more advanced than his motor skills, thus causing him to stumble? I really don’t know. We do have an appointment for him to be evaluated by a speech and language pathologist, though. So that will be good. I spoke with her briefly over the phone and she said that she thinks it will most likely clear up on its own, but that it’s best to evaluate him just in case she thinks he will need some sort of intervention. This sounds perfect. I know that, because of his age, chances are that he’ll grow out of this stutter, but Phil and I both feel best knowing that he will be evaluated by someone who knows what to look for in a child who needs help.

So that’s the first thing. The second thing that I want to do a quick update about is his vision. First, the good news: He has binocular vision now!!! This is so so so so so wonderful since this is something that is often never achieved by a person who has amblyopia. I’m positive that he has developed this so quickly because he was so young when we found out that he wasn’t using his eyes correctly. I have said it before and I’ll say it again — we are so thankful that our pediatrician knew to check his eyes! Some more good news is that his visual acuity seems to be improving. Visual acuity is the way that a person sees, regardless of their eyeball’s ability to see. Visual acuity has more to do with how the brain processes the visual information that an eye sends to it. So a person with a weak glasses prescription may actually have a much worse visual acuity than a person with a stronger prescription (with glasses on, I mean), because the visual acuity depends on how well a person’s brain can use the eyes. I hope that makes sense. It’s a hard thing to understand and thus a hard thing for me to explain. So anyway, Asher’s prescription is still pretty strong, but he is learning to use his eyes much better and thus seems to have clearer vision. He first “read” the eye chart (they have easier eye charts for small children) in February and really couldn’t see much of anything. But last week and this week he read the eye chart down quite a ways! Still not to 20/20 vision, but to I think 20/80 or 20/60 maybe, which is great! That being said, he still must continue to improve his vision. While we have heard great things about our pediatric ophthalmologist (PO), I’ve heard that she is the only one in Switzerland who uses Atropine (eye drops) therapy rather than patching to treat amblyopia. I’ve never been happy about the eye drops, since they are a very harsh chemical and I just hate putting a dangerous chemical into my baby’s eye every day. Plus, the more I have learned the more I realize that they really aren’t a terribly common practice. It can be deadly if swallowed and can cause some terrible side effects  even when used appropriately, which is quite scary considering we were using it on a child who really can’t verbalize any negative effects he’s experiencing. We had noticed, though, that he seemed very stressed for the past several months. We kept thinking it was transitions, or him being tired, or growth spurts, or whatever else, but he just kept seeming stressed and agitated. Knowing what we know about the drops, we decided it was time to ask to try something different. So at our appointment with our ophthalmologist last week, when she told us to continue 5 days/week of Atropine and that she’d see Asher again in 6 months, Phil and I looked at each other and then I said “well, we’d really like to stop the drops.” The PO kind of seemed annoyed, and without really responding took out a piece of film and stuck it to the inside of Asher’s glasses. She said, “okay. You can try this film on his lens instead. Leave it in until December. I HOPE it will work.” It’s hard to tell if she was actually upset or not, since her default facial expression seems to be “furious,” but whatever. Of course I want to treat Asher’s amblyopia, but Phil and I are both glad that we will no longer be putting those stupid drops in his eyes. Okay, now I’m rambling. So we stopped the drops. Another thing, though, is that we wanted to get a second opinion. So after doing some research, I learned that we should try out a developmental optometrist (DO) and was able to find one semi-close to where we live. So Asher and I went to meet this woman today! It was great! She agreed that Asher’s current glasses prescription is appropriate. She said he actually needs an even higher prescription, but it is best not to give a small child a full prescription because you want them to work hard to use their focusing power so that they don’t develop their vision in a way that is dependent on glasses if they don’t actually need them. I was surprised to hear that he actually “needs” a stronger prescription, since I had asked our PO about that several months ago, but was really only given her “who the heck do you think you are?” face. The DO said that his binocular vision is excellent, which was wonderful to hear. She had Ash in 3D glasses and looking at all kinds of different things — it literally brought tears to my eyes to see him so blatantly grabbing for the 3D images! The DO said not to keep the film in his glasses, but instead to do light therapy every day with him. She gave me red and green glasses (like, the lenses are colored, I mean) and a little light and told me to shine a light in his eyes through the different colors a few times each day. I don’t completely know why I should do this, but I’m going to look in to it. She also said that there is very new research that suggests doctors have been treating amblyopia all wrong for decades by blocking the vision in the good eye. She said that the real cause of amblyopia is that the amblyopic eye actually has TOO Much light, rather than not enough, and so if one eye should be blocked, it should be the amblyopic eye and that it can actually hurt a person’s vision to block the good eye. I don’t know how I feel about that yet, but I’m going to look in to it.

Okay, I’m definitely rambling now. I hear Asher back there mumbling to himself, which means there will be no nap today. I’m going to go so I can sit for a moment or 2 in complete silence until he starts demanding to get out of bed.

Oh, no… I have to say that the DO will not accept Asher as a patient unless we stop seeing the PO. This is just because the practices are a bit different, so it would be dangerous to do 2 different types of therapies on the same person. So we have some decisions to make! Our pediatrician wasn’t completely on board with us seeing the DO as opposed to the PO, since more verifiable research is typically associated with POs and DOs often rely more on “unproven” theories. I get that argument, but I also am sure that Atropine is not what my son needs right now. The pediatrician said it was fine if we wanted to check out a DO, but also recommended a new PO for us to try since he understood that we weren’t completely happy with our current one. We’ll see! Hopefully that all makes sense. Phil wasn’t able to come with us to the DO appointment this morning, and there are several friends/family members that I’ve been trying to keep updated about Asher’s stuff the past few weeks, so I really wanted to write all of this out while I have a moment to do so.

Asher is back there shouting “Oh, MOM AND DAD!” “MOMANDDAD!” “MOOOOOM AND DAAAAAAD.” hahaha Before I go get him I’ll tell you something adorable that he did this morning.

At the optometrist’s office we were moving back and forth from room to room for various kinds of exercises and ways for her to examine him. The office was quite small, and for most of the time we were there, it was just me, Asher and the DO who were there. Near the end, though, a young man walked in because he was her next appointment. Asher was really interested in this guy and when the optometrist greeted him Asher went “ohhhh, dat’s her daddy.” The guy was probably less than half her age, so I’m guessing that’s not the case. hahaha then As I finished up talking to the optometrist, Asher walked up to the guy and asked “Whats yo’ name?” The guy said “My name is Lars, what’s your name?” And Asher went “Oh, my name ith Ashuh.” Lars said, it’s nice to meet you, and Asher, having walked past Lars by that point, turned around and stuck his hand out to shake Lars’ hand. hahahahahaha He didn’t smile and didn’t act silly, he was just introducing himself and shaking hands like a grown up man. hahahahaha It was really cute.

While I’m on the topic of Asher being cute, I’ll tell you one more funny thing. Though he seems to understand a good bit of German, Asher mostly refuses to speak it right now. But yesterday morning I woke up to him shouting from the other room “Peepee machen! PEEPEE MACHEN!” So I went in and asked him (in German) if he needed to pee. He went “Ja.” Then he said “Ich am speaking German!” hahahaha Hopefully that translates into written words as cute and funny as it was to me. hehe

He’s really freaking out now. I guess I should go tend to him.

 

3 Responses to “Quick update on Asher”

  1. vwood28 June 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Great post, Bre. Thank you for the update on our sweet guy and for all the love and time you put into helping him through his vision/speech issues and for including the cute stories at the end – love to hear about his adorable little (big) personality. Love and miss you all.

  2. Erin Schrad June 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Glad your “not feeling like writing” turned into not wanting to stop at the end! Loved hearing about his progress with his eyes and the funny little stories. :o) On the stuttering… I wonder if it is at all related to growing up bilingual? My brother’s girlfriend grew up speaking English and Spanish – her father is from Missouri, her mother is Cuban – and she told me recently about having a stutter as a kid. We’ve always referred to her as “Elizabeth” and not “Liz” or “Lizzie” because that’s how we always heard Jeff refer to her, so we figured that was a preference. But as we’ve gotten to know her, she has mentioned family calling her Liz or Lizzie. When she told me about having had a stutter, she said that was why she usually went with Elizabeth when referring to herself… because when she stuttered, it was easier to start on the E sound than the L. And sometimes she still fights the stutter now and falls back on her old tricks for not getting stuck in the stutter. When you said something about maybe the timing/advancement of his verbal thoughts and his motor skills just not lining up right now… I thought maybe that could just be a reflection of him working through thinking in English and/or German and trying to then articulate in one of the languages and it maybe causing enough of a hesitation that it locks him up. Certainly it’s a great thing to learn another language from the get go… but it may just be that, right now at this development stage, he’s stumbling a little bit trying to navigate the two languages. Of course, I have absolutely no education in this area… just an observation!! I am sure he will either grow out of it or learn how to deal with it.

    Miss you guys!!! ❤

  3. Erin Schrad June 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    (P.S. Elizabeth just graduated with her Master’s from Johns Hopkins, so clearly that means stuttering bilingual kids are super smart!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: